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Cobleskill-Richmondville district projects tax levy increase of 2.9%

Cobleskill-Richmondville district projects tax levy increase of 2.9%

A proposed $36.85 million budget for the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District in 2008-09

A proposed $36.85 million budget for the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District in 2008-09 calls for a spending increase of about 4 percent over the current year, district officials said Tuesday.

Pending final state aid figures, the total amount to be raised from taxes, the levy, is expected to rise about 2.9 percent, according to district Business Manager Howard W. Anderson.

The spending plan is up about $1.4 million from the 2007-08 budget. The Board of Education on Tuesday delayed a vote to adopt the budget until April 24 to await state aid figures in the overdue state budget in Albany.

Based on former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposed state budget, the district expected about a 3 percent increase in aid, compared to this year, “but we don’t know what’s going to change,” Anderson told school board members.

The proposed budget includes various “enhancements” to add some staff and other items trimmed in previous years, according to district Superintendent Lynn Lisy Macan.

“I’m very pleased to recommend this budget,” Macan said.

She called the estimates “a modest potential tax levy increase” that is less than the rise in the consumer price index.

According to the latest statistics available Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Labor, the CPI showed a 4 percent annual increase in overall urban retail prices in the Northeast as of February.

A 33 percent estimated increase in fuel and fuel-related costs, about $209,000, was a major factor driving the budget increase, according to Anderson. State aid reimburses 90 percent of transportation fuel costs the following year, he noted.

At the same time, an energy conservation and efficiency program reduced the cost of energy used in the schools by 30 percent, or $110,000. That reflects a 9.5 percent reduction in utility costs from the year before.

Although figures were not outlined Tuesday, Anderson said proposed additional staff include positions for a psychologist, a music teacher, remedial reading and math teachers, a custodian supervisor and a head bus driver.

Summer school programs similar to last summer will be maintained, Anderson said.

The proposed budget, which totals $36,849,612, reflects a 5 percent increase in the cost of instructional and support staff, he said.

The board set a special meeting to vote on adopting the recommended budget for 4:45 p.m. April 24 in the William H. Golding Middle School library. The state deadline for school boards to adopt their annual budgets is April 25.

A public hearing on the budget is set for 6:30 p.m. on May 12.

District voters will make their decision May 20.

Voters will also decide whether to purchase eight replacement school buses at a cost not to exceed $615,000. The local cost will be reduced by 90 percent state aid, reimbursed the following year.

Although separate from the school district budget, a $170,720 budget for The Community Library in Cobleskill, whose taxing district mirrors the school district’s, will be on the ballot. That is up about 6 percent over the current year, Anderson said.

The Cobleskill-Richmondville district serves about 2,200 students in 15 towns. The Community Library is funded separately.

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